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AFGHANISTAN: Oxfam calls for aid to be more effective, transparent

KABUL, 20 November 2007 (IRIN) - Over US$15 billion of international aid money spent in Afghanistan in the past six years has not met the urgent humanitarian and development needs of the Afghan people because aid has either been insufficient or delivered ineffectively, a British charity organisation, Oxfam GB, said in a report.

"Too much aid to Afghanistan is provided in ways that are ineffective or inefficient," said the report which was submitted to a committee of the House of Commons, in London, last week and made publicly available on 20 November.

According to Oxfam, a big portion of the overall aid to Afghanistan "is absorbed by profits of companies and subcontractors, by non-Afghan resources and by high expatriate salaries and living costs".

"Each full-time expatriate consultant costs up to half a million dollars a year," the report has found.

The Oxfam report points to poor coordination among donors and a lack of transparency in aid spending which badly affects aid effectiveness. It also mentions weak implementing capacity, corruption and lack of resources in Afghan government institutions, exacerbating aid inefficiencies.

''Too much aid to Afghanistan is provided in ways that are ineffective or inefficient.''
Although agriculture is a major means of income for about 80 percent of Afghans, donors and the government of Afghanistan have only spent $270 million on agricultural projects in the last six years, Oxfam's findings show.

Call for increased use of Afghan resources

Owing to wasteful and ineffective aid totalling over $15 billion, millions of Afghans, particularly in rural areas, still face severe hardship "comparable with sub-Saharan Africa", the report said.

"Millions of highly vulnerable people in Afghanistan still need urgent support and assistance," Matt Waldman, the author of the Oxfam report, told IRIN in Kabul.

The 24-page report calls on donors to increase the amount of aid to the war-ravaged nation, ensure transparency, increase coordination and improve aid effectiveness through increased use of Afghan resources.


Photo: Abdullah Shaheen/IRIN
Millions of Afghans, particularly in rural areas, still face hardship comparable with sub-Saharan Africa, Oxfam says
"The Afghanistan Compact [a strategic framework for the sustainable and balanced development of Afghanistan, agreed between Afghans and donors] sets 77 benchmarks for the Afghan government, but none for donors," said Waldman, adding that donors should take bold measures to change the current direction of aid delivery to Afghanistan.

Among Oxfam's recommendations is the establishment of an independent commission which should monitor aid delivery to, and aid effectiveness in, Afghanistan.

A spokesman for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Adrian Edwards, agreed that there was a need for the government of Afghanistan to strengthen its institutional capacity to better manage and absorb international funds.

Donors should also improve aid delivery to, and effectiveness in, Afghanistan, Edwards said.

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Theme (s): Aid Policy,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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